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Cut the Filler Words and Make Your Speaking More Powerful

Stashed in: Words!, Presentations, Communication, Grammar

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Tips for cutting out ums, uhs, and literallys

Not sure if you have a filler word (or two)? Watch yourself on video; there's no better tool than this. The camera doesn't lie, especially when it comes to audio.

1. Leave yourself a voicemail. When replaying it, note the words you default to when you're not focused. In our one-on-one platinum coaching, we always give an audio recorder to executives so they know how they come across. Alternatively, you can even use your smartphone in "voice memo" function. (The only problem is that you're usually on it.)

2. Try to overdo a pause. The power of the pause has amazing impact. Just pause. Challenge yourself to only resume when the next thing out of your mouth is not a filler word, but it is your next idea. It might feel like you are waiting for an eternity, but it won't seem long to your listeners. Over time, your pause length will shorten.

3. If you project your voice, it's really hard to say "um…" That energy, pitch, and projection eliminate the tendency to add an "uh," and it makes it more engaging for other people who are listening.

4. Don't get down on yourself. If you focus on the negative (saying too many "ums," "likes," and "honestlys"), it can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of filler word overload. Instead, focus on the positive. One of our coaches asks people to say the phrase, "I am a person that perfectly pauses" out loud. Not only do you have to slow down and enunciate that phrase (so much alliteration), but it also shifts your focus to what you do well.

Eliminating filler words won't take extra time—it will just take extra effort.

Slow down and pause. This is the golden ticket.

The payoff for this is tremendous: heightened credibility. A better delivery. Best of all, a clearer message without the distraction.

"Please make it stop literally" is a good use of the word literally.

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